It's official: why prisoners aren't going straight
Tuesday 16 January 2007
Few critics of conditions in our nation's jails have been more outspoken than the es teemed former chief inspector of prisons, Sir David Ramsbottom. Unfortunately, his latest forthright views seem to have landed him in hot water with the gay brotherhood.
Ramsbottom, who retired in 2001, was invited by the shadow Home Secretary, David Davis, to address a House of Commons committee about the Offender Management Bill.
Raising the issue of overcrowding, he claimed many prisoners are kept in "disgraceful conditions which lead to bullying, substance misuse and homosexuality". Several members of the audience sprayed coffee over their fellow committee members, while others turned puce hearing him mention gay sex in the same sentence as drug taking and violent abuse.
"There was a collective shiver," says one attendee, "and some giggling." He adds: "Dave Davis was very diplomatic about the whole thing and intervened with a sort of 'Moving swiftly on ...' remark before anyone had the chance to comment. You could say that he didn't let go of the soap."
Comments the gay rights wallah Peter Tatchell: "None of the prisoners I'm helping have experienced any concerns about rising incidents of gay sex, not even the straight ones.
"Since no amount of overcrowding can turn a heterosexual man gay, if David Ramsbottom has any evidence to support this theory, I'm sure the science community would love to hear about it."
Worse things happen at sea
The London Docklands are, admittedly, not quite the Côte d'Azur, but touring a palatial £11m yacht in harbour is the closest Pandora will get to presenting Through the Porthole any time soon.
This new vessel, commissioned by the former Formula 1 racing team boss Eddie Jordan, is the biggest built by Poole's Sunseeker boatyard (speedboat supplier to 007 in Casino Royale).
£11m buys you a 37-metre, 200-ton yacht with three decks, cabins for 12 guests, eight TVs, a chef plus crew of seven, walk-in wardrobes, a sun deck with bar, a 170-bottle wine fridge, broadband internet "to check stocks and shares", a spa, a sewage treatment plant and a garage with two jet bikes and a motor launch (for waterskiing and arriving in style at southern French ports).
"The owner and his family do a lot of waterskiing," says my guide, "in warmer waters, you understand."
Green guru's blue movie
Two weeks ago the Conservative Party named topless model Keeley Hazell on its list of "environment heroes", next to plant-whisperer Prince Charles and Sir David Attenborough. She has posed in green paint and advised readers of The Sun to make love in the dark to save electricity.
A leaked home sex video of Dave Cameron's favourite Page 3 girl is available online. Says one downloader: "There's too much male hairy arse but judge for yourself." Pandora did attempt "background research" but a cyber-intermediary demanded €4.50. Perhaps not what the WebCameron team had in mind?
Asked if the Tory party stood by its woman, a spokeswoman said: "Keeley has campaigned on green issues and her views deserve to be taken seriously." If Ms Hazell wants a career in politics, she'll have to learn to ignore her knockers - sorry, detractors.
The rat pack
Consternation and standing-on-chairs among Fleet Street's parliamentary scribes, after the discovery of a dead "furry friend" in the press gallery restaurant yesterday lunchtime.
"It was stiff," says an eyewitness, "lying there on the floor with its feet in the air. An attendant picked it up in a dustpan and took it away into the kitchen. We will carefully inspect the contents of tomorrow's stew."
* Walking past the post office by St James's Park Tube station, a colleague was alarmed to hear a robotic female voice call from the back of a parked mail van: "Help! We are being attacked. Please call the police." A crowd soon gathered. The only people missing were Ian Blair and chums - resident 10 metres across the road in New Scotland Yard.
Tarrant keeps it clean
Chris Tarrant tells me he turned down an offer to present a BBC3 documentary, I Love the C-Word. "They asked me, but there are some things I won't do," he says. "It's all very well for me, or you, to shout '[the c-word]' at each other here in a bar, but lots of people think it's unacceptable on telly. Perhaps not what you would want to be remembered for." The Beeb are yet to find an anchor. If I may be so bold as to suggest a shrinking violet never likely to put himself forward, who better than Radio 4's Simon Fanshawe? Pandora readers may remember the self-professed manners expert once alarmed film buffs by bellowing in a crowded cinema foyer after tickets sold out: "The fucking stupid cunt!!" Hopefully, he can find time to film away from organising Brighton's social event of the year (his 50th birthday party, for which he invoiced friends £35 for tickets). Fanny, your public needs you!
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